The South African Medical Association (Sama) has announced that their Eastern Cape local hero for the year is East London-based Dr Sibongile Mandondo.
During their annual AGM at the East London Golf Club on Friday, the association’s former branch chairman, Dr Kim Harper, handed Mandondo her award to applause from 30 colleagues.
Mandondo is an obstetric and gynaecological specialist for the provincial department of health.
She is attached to the Amathole district clinical specialist team (DCST). Her work is to strengthen obstetric and gynaecological health services at district and community levels through supportive supervision and clinical governance.
Originally from Tsolo, Mandondo said she returned to work in the public sector after a stint in the private sector because of the needs faced by underprivileged communities.
“Very early in my career I found my strength in training, persuading and imparting knowledge to people.
“I wanted to teach other health professionals that no woman should die giving birth.
“ So I work with various teams that continue to improve systems,” she said.
Highlighting teenage pregnancies, she said medical practitioners were faced with a phenomenon of young girls falling pregnant to “prove” they loved their partners, and young boys wanting to make girls pregnant to “check” if they [boys] were fertile.
Mandondo said many young women were dying during childbirth because of several medical conditions linked to being too young to have a baby.
“We are finding young women dying because of hypertension linked to being pregnant too young, under 20 years old. We need to engage young people.
“The other thing is repeated abortions which can result in cervical incompetence. Some young women are using abortion as a form of contraceptive. “Others are using back street clinics, which are illegal and dangerous,” Mandondo said.
Mandondo, a married mother of three, was lauded by her colleagues for taking on multiple approaches in public health sector.
“She travels extensively throughout the Amathole district, training doctors and nurses, assisting with ward rounds in district hospitals, and doing clinical sessions in the East London Hospital complex as a consultant,” Harper said. — firstname.lastname@example.org